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Famous Chinese calligrapher shows work

Posted: March 20, 2008 12:27 a.m.
Updated: May 21, 2008 5:03 a.m.

World-famous Chinese calligrapher Dong Yi-Lan demonstrates his art to Saugus High School students during a Tuesday lunchtime presentation.

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For thousands of years, Chinese art and calligraphy have enchanted people around the world. On Tuesday, students at Saugus High School had a rare opportunity to be enchanted by the ancient art form during their lunch period.

Dong-li Yan, a famous Chinese calligrapher who recently displayed his world-famous artwork at the Valencia public library in February, visited Saugus High School on Tuesday to display previous works and create new ones for the students.

'Great encouragement'
Yan, who does not speak English, explained though Ying Fisher - the Chinese instructor at Saugus High - what he was writing to the students, which included messages of gratitude, peace and friendship.

About 30 students enjoyed their lunch in the school's art gallery, where they watched Yan lay out his painting materials in front of them and create two new Chinese calligraphy pieces. Both pieces, painted on a special canvas, were dedicated to the school and presented to the students as a gift.

"This is great encouragement for my students," said Fisher, who invited Yan to speak to her Chinese language students. "It let's them see something that is otherwise so far away right here at school."

A renowned Oracle Bone Script calligrapher, Yan, 67, came to the United States a few months ago to visit his son in Valencia and exhibit his personal collection of an ancient Chinese writing form to the Valencia Library, the only time Yan's works was on display in America.

'It's amazing'
Practicing Chinese calligraphy for more than 50 years, the newspaper-editor-turned-artist specializes in Oracle Bone Script and grass style script. Yan's approach is both traditional and conventional, incorporating traditional drawing into his calligraphy techniques.

One of the original forms of Chinese calligraphy was Oracle Bone Script, also called shell bone writing, or "pinyin" in China.

It refers to incised or brush-written ancient Chinese characters found on oracle bones, which are animal bones or turtle shells used in divination in ancient China.

Yan himself was fascinated by the ancient writing his whole life; he previously displayed his work in many cities in China, Singapore and Taiwan.

Many of his works are also owned by private collectors and public art galleries.

Yan is visiting from Nanjing, China, where he is retired and lives with his wife.

"It's amazing that these students had a chance to experience Yan's work in person," Fisher added.

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